Getting Around in Kyrgyzstan

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Getting around in Kyrgyzstan can be tricky if you don’t know your way around: Since a few years, there are a couple of car rentals available to foreigners, but a lot of people refrain from driving as the roads are often in bad conditions and you have to get used to the driving style and other traffic participants (such as cows, carriages, etc.). There are a few trains, but they only take you to very few destinations and run just once or twice per day.

So, how do you move around? In every bigger city, there is a bus station where you can find hundreds of cars and small buses leaving to every corner of the country. If you are looking for a destination, just tell the people at the station where you are headed and they will point you to a driver who will go there (it’s best to go in the morning as then there is more choice).

There are shared taxis, which are popular and often more comfortable. But the cheapest way to get around is the Marshrutka – a kind of mini-bus which you find in all former USSR states, but also in Africa. They can be crowded and sticky, but they sure take you anywhere in Kyrgyzstan. If you stayed in a small town or village, just find one of the colourful, unique bus stops and wait for the next Marshrutka to arrive. Don’t look for a timetable for too long – usually, there is none and you just have to wait until your driver arrives.

Tip: If you are stuck in a small town or village and don’t want to wait for a Marshrutka to arrive, you can also just ask around. Often, you will find someone who is willing to bring you to your next destination for a reasonable price. Also, hitchhiking is an option: I’ve met women travelling alone who hitchhiked everywhere without a problem and felt very safe all along.

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